Ben Ehrenreich’s “Desert Notebooks,” proves many things. First, he is one intelligent dude. Second, he’s a solid writer in every way. Three, his references are the most detailed, most wide ranging of any author I can remember reading. In fact, this book is more like two books. The first being a history lesson covering things like Popol Vuh. The second being the author’s life experience. I’m torn about this book but only because I felt like I wanted more of his life experience. His familiar haunts were once familiar to me as well. Joshua Tree, Los Angeles, Las Vegas.
I read the bulk of this book in one sitting only because I needed to be in the correct brain space to deal with the writing. If you are surfing IG while reading don’t even think of getting this book. This book demands undivided attention. I was outside of a hotel in Albuquerque sitting in the warm sun on a cold winter day. I knew I was getting sunburned but I just went all in on getting it done.
The book bounces in and out of the warning signs that the global music is about to stop. There is one paragraph in particular about the series of mass shootings that transpired over a short period of time. Just listed as matter of fact. Location, number of dead. One of those things that even the initiated say “Wow, quite a list America.” But these references aren’t heavy handed. Probably because the author knows how hyper sensitive we have become here in the good old US of A. (Like my father waiting 45 years for the jackbooted Democrats to come take his guns. Were he alive he would still be waiting.)
Perhaps I’m a fatalist. I’ve never held out hope we would work things out. When the primary concern of a sizable portion of the population is what they are going to stream next, well, I just know living in the rubble might be our most likely outcome. But I like reading the observations of another observer. This book made me think.